Speak up

Preview of La Liga’s 19th week

Xavi en QatarI’m sure we all agree: one of the most frustrating aspects of modern football is the development of a generation of players and coaches trained to say absolutely nothing during an interview. Able to speak like politicians, they avoid anything remotely similar to uttering a real opinion about other teams, teammates, coaches and anything that could somehow get them into trouble. Continue reading “Speak up”

Gluttony before Christmas

Preview of La Liga’s 17th round of fixtures

In his last column, Phil commented how odd this round of fixtures is. Indeed, the first match is to be played on Tuesday and the last on Saturday, which makes for a very long “weekend”.

That said, it’s a cracking set of matches: the 17th round includes El Clasico, the Galician derby, the “other” Madrid – Barcelona derby between Atletico and Espanyol, the Valencian Community derby between Valencia and Villarreal, two duels involving Sevilla teams and Basque teams, a relegation thriller with Malaga visiting Alaves… Continue reading “Gluttony before Christmas”

We need you, Basques

Preview of La Liga’s 16th week

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With the obvious depressing state of Basque football, the fight over a top six finish in La Liga seems already settled for the rest of the season. Unless something shocking happens in the next couple of months, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia and Atlético de Madrid will end the tournament in spots that give access to European football next season, while the rest of the clubs will have to fight to avoid relegation or die of boredom in mid table.  Continue reading “We need you, Basques”

Copa del Rey virus

Preview of La Liga’s 14th week

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Cadiz scored 5 at the Villamarín

After a shambolic midweek performance by several sides, only 12 La Liga teams will be included in the pool for the last-16 round of the Copa del Rey. Athletic de Bilbao and Real Sociedad managed to lose at home to Third Division sides and crashed out of the tournament in embarrassing fashion. Betis lost 5-3 to Cadiz at their own stadium and were also eliminated. Continue reading “Copa del Rey virus”

Boring Liga?

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Right before another international break, La Liga offers a somewhat underwhelming picture: an unassailable leader; a mild fight over Champions League spots; few real candidates to compete for Europa League positions; and a crystal clear bottom-three.

Is the tournament becoming boring? Continue reading “Boring Liga?”

Isco or Iniesta?

The homework is done. After their 3-0 victory over Albania, Spain have qualified for their eleventh World Cup in a row. Their last group match, away against Israel on Monday, will allow Lopetegui to give quality minutes to representatives of his under-21 squad, some of whom have already shown that they can deliver in the top international level as well as they did when they played for the Basque coach in Spain’s youth teams. Continue reading “Isco or Iniesta?”

Spain catch the Russian plane

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Watching England narrowly pip Slovenia and qualify for Russia, the night before Spain also secured their place by defeating Albania 3-0, was like watching the Grimsby youth-club disco make way for the Bolshoi Ballet. Julen Lopetegui’s Spain, refreshed and motivated by the change of coach, and with a seemingly endless cache of arms to employ on the front line, obliterated a half-decent Albanian side with a first-half display on Friday night which should rightly frighten the other feasible World Cup aspirants.   Continue reading “Spain catch the Russian plane”